Like Bears

My story Like Bears appears in the latest issue of Island magazine.

Like Bears is a bit of a departure for me. There’s no speculative elements in it at all. But it was a lot of fun to write. It felt like I was stretching muscles I hadn’t used before, but will again.

Island is a beautiful magazine, only available in print for the best of reasons. Like Bears is paired with an image by Steve Lovegrove which really captures the essence of the story.

Subscriptions or individual copies of Island are available here.
You can find more of Steve’s work at Lovegrove Photography

All Good

A few updates:

My story “Monster” is now available in ASIM #63. It’s a dark fantasy story, in a world I’d like to visit again. Hope you like it.

Au Contraire is this weekend. Unfortunately I’m not going to be there, but it’s going to be a great time. And the con means it’s SJV time again. I’m thrilled that The Last is nominated in the novella category this year. Shortcuts: Track 1 in its entirety is nominated for Best Collected Work. It’s always a honor to be nominated and there’s a particularly good crop of stories this year. I’m proud to be in such good company.

Everything is Fine is still available in ebook or print. If you’ve read it, feel free to leave a review at the usual places.




How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t!

Under Construction
Under Construction

It’s no secret that I’m a big Shakespeare fan. When I lived in London, The Globe was one of my favorite places to be. So when I heard about the Pop-Up Globe, there was no question I’d be seeing a play or two.

Then the call went out for volunteers. There was no choice.





Anthony and Cleopatra
Anthony and Cleopatra

The Globe opened in February and for the next twelve weeks I spent as much time as I could there. I scanned tickets and greeted guests as they arrived. I directed people to their seats and told them where the bar was. I roasted in the heat. I got drenched when it rained. I smiled and sold programmes and collected empty wine glasses and litter at the end of every show.   I stood until my feet ached and then I stood some more. I got really good at standing.

The Tempest
The Tempest









At least once a week I’d work a full day then head up to the Globe for the evening. Some days I wouldn’t get home until after midnight. Then I’d get up in the morning and do it again.










The Pop-Up Globe was an audacious, ridiculous idea. Every time I arrived I couldn’t quite believe the place existed. People came back again and again. People who had never seen Shakespeare before had the best possible introduction. Over twelve weeks ninety thousand people came through the doors.


Groundlings don't let a little rain stop the fun.
Groundlings don’t let a little rain stop the fun.

I was continually asked what would be playing next year (nothing – it’ll be gone). I was asked where the Globe was going next (no idea. But it’s gotta go somewhere, right?)






Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night







They’re pulling The Globe down now. It’s all being documented on Instagram, if you can stand to watch. I can’t.












The view from the Upper Gallery
The view from the Upper Gallery



Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
"Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things"
“Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things”

There was a bunch of stuff I’d planned on doing over the summer that I didn’t get to. The garden’s a disaster. The hallway remains unpainted. The novel didn’t get revised. But to get the chance to play a tiny part in this beautiful idea?

No place I’d rather be.


Shortcuts Track 1 – Preorder now and win!

Shortcuts Track 1 : Strange tales of Aotearoa New Zealand

Available in November, all Shortcuts Track 1 novellas, collected and in print for the first time.


Lee Murray and Piper Mejia : Mika
A.C. Buchanan : Bree’s Dinosaur
Grant Stone : The Last
I.K. Paterson-Harkness : Pocket Wife
Tim Jones : Landfall
Octavia Cade : The Ghost of Matter

Plus a gorgeous cover by K.C. Bailey

Preorder now and you could win! See Paper Road Press for more details.

The Petty Gods Are Here!

Petty Gods
If you’re even vaguely involved in the Old-School Roleplaying scene, you’ll be aware of Petty Gods (Revised and Expanded Edition), an attempt to create something like the old Deities & Demigods, or the Judges Guild Unknown Gods from back in the day. And now, finally, it’s here!

It’s more than here, actually. It’s HERE. This thing is a monster. Three hundred. And Ninety-Four. Pages. So big that when you put it on your shelf, all your other gaming books will likely worship it. And well they should.

M.A.R. Barker is in here! James Ward is in here! Erol Otus is in here! Some of you will be freaking out right about now. These are the real old school. These are the originators. Thing is, they’re just some of the hundreds of contributors. Hundreds. Literally hundreds. The illustrations are amazing (quite a few from my friend Darcy Perry). And it’s funny! It’s a whole bunch of everything.

I’m in there too. In the introduction I attempt to define what, really, a god is. I don’t know if I succeed, but at least I got out of it with my skin intact, which is more than I can say for the poor faculty and students of the university of Crabt (Go Star Hat U!). Later on I write about The Lady of Rains, one of the aspects of The Jale God.

I don’t get to play nearly as much as I’d like to these days, but role-playing is in my blood. I’m immensely proud to be a part of such an epic project.

And you can get it free, right now, at RPG Now. And you should. But you can’t stop there. Something this epic can’t be restricted to computer bits. Lulu has a softcover version here. But for the real old-school feel, you have to go for the hardcover here. Seriously. This baby’s even got an orange spine. You know you want it.

Enjoy! And if you end up using The Lady of Rains in a game, let me know.

This strapping young fellow is the captain of the Star Hat University first fifteen. Which might explain why they haven't won a game for twenty years.
This strapping young fellow is the captain of the Star Hat University first fifteen. Which might explain why they haven’t won a game for twenty years.

Footnote: I just realised. I’m sitting here wearing a Star Wars T-shirt surrounded by tiny computers. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is on TV and I’m writing about being in a game supplement with an orange spine. Hey, thirteen-year-old me – everything you dreamed of has come true.

Now Available: Petty Gods (Revised & Expanded Edition)


Lulu (softcover)

Lulu (hardcover)

Nearly the last

The lasThe Lastt is nearly here. And to celebrate, there’s an excerpt over at Paper Road Press.

Check it out and preorder, or even better, subscribe to the full Shortcuts series for only $3.33 a month.

Still need convincing? Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

The Toyota blew a tyre somewhere not far north of Huntly.

Read the rest at Paper Road Press


ASIM60_frontcover-723x1024 DadaDada, the first Cerberus story is here! It’s the heartwarming tale of an unconventional family in a version of World War 1 that never was.

Available from Andromeda Spaceways for only five bucks!

epub mobi PDF print

The Dritty Doesen is here!

DrittyDoesenPromoMy friend and fellow  Cerberusite (why does that sound like something spiky from a Clive Barker book?) Matthew Sanborn Smith has just released his first collection. And it’s  … well, it’s one hundred percent, free-range, hand-reared pure Matt. Any Matthew Sanborn Smith story contains at least 105% of your recommended daily allowance of Weird Stuff, so if you read one every day then by the end of a month you’ll be glowing green and dancing on the ceiling like a cross between Bruce Banner and Lionel Richie. Which I think we can all agree is the best way to be.
You can pick up a copy of The Dritty Doesen at Amazon right here. And you should. Now. Well, soon. First though, check out Steve Sepp, Tasty! Tasty! right here at d1sc0r0b0t. Then get on over to Amazon. Operators are standing by. Do they have operators? Seems like they’d have operators.
And now, there’s this!

Thanks, Grant, for allowing me to share this here! The Dritty Doesen is my first collection. In keeping with my general unreasonableness, I decided to come right out of the gate with my least reasonable stories. Here’s one that first appeared in Nature (The journal, not that big thing outside). The collection contains eleven more stories, and behind the scenes looks at how each of them came into being. On top of that, you get a gorgeous cover by the awesome Galen Dara! Hope you dig it!

Steve Sepp, Tasty! Tasty!

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

We didn’t eat Steve on a Tuesday, which I think was one of the things that made him special.

Steve Sepp, he was one of those all-time losers you talk about to make your own life seem bearable. Lived in a mobile home that hadn’t run in a year and a half (that was what he called his car, anyway), couldn’t get work, divorced, running from everybody. You didn’t want to hang with the guy, because you didn’t want to catch whatever he had, you know what I mean? But I felt bad for him and other people did too. The wife would bring him by a loaf of bread she baked or some corn muffins or whatever, usually when we were on our way to the hospital on Tuesday nights.

This one night though, Steve’s sick as a dog, doubled over in pain. He took it until he couldn’t take it anymore, which wasn’t long really, cause Steve was a major wuss on top of all his other problems. Mira and I, we hustle him over to the ER. Nurse asks a couple questions, presses her hand against his belly button. “Might be your appendix,” she says and they grab a wheelchair and hustle him off.

Of course, of all the people we know, Steve was the guy that gets appendicitis. That’s his luck. “Well, at least he doesn’t have to wait,” I says to Mira. She slaps my arm and we head to the South end of the building where we wanted to go in the first place.

The Baker Street Hospital is the place to go on Tuesday nights if you aren’t already sick. Tuesday’s usually their biggest outpatient day and The Outpatient Diner is what draws people from all over the neighborhood and beyond. All those little bits and pieces they cut off of people during the day, they wind up on the menu. You know, stew, pulled meat sandwiches, what have you. If you’re an outpatient, you get a freebie after your surgery. Most of ’em want a bite of themselves. You could call it cannibalism I suppose, but everyone who was on that menu was up and walking around (or wheeling around). The Hospital has the waivers. It’s all on the up and up.

Not having any insurance, Steve signed the waivers without a blink because it defrayed some of his costs. Not a lot, but every little bit helps. He was in the hole as it was. If he lived through this, it would kill him.

So, like I say, Tuesday nights are hopping at the Diner. It got so that regulars like me and Mira couldn’t even get in. We’re getting bumped by celebrities, for chrissakes, like the guy who does Sharona LaHaye’s hair and that pip who sells Maxi all her pet supplies.

So we give up and go back on Wednesday, hoping maybe to get a discount on day-old spleen soup or something, I don’t know what we were thinking, but we were glad we did. ‘Scuse me, my mouth is watering just remembering it.

We walk in not knowing what’s what and the place is nuts. Jimmy Palbro runs up to us before we even sit down, and says, he says, “Al, Mira, you guys gotta try this!” He’s got a couple of biscuits with some gravy on ’em like it’s the south or somethin’ only it’s brown gravy. Anyway we taste ’em and me and Mira, our eyes bug out.

“What is this?” I ask him. And he says:

“It’s Steve Sepp gravy! Steve from down the street? They musta brought him in for somethin’”

“Yeah,” I says, “Mira and me, we brought him in last night.”

“You hear that, everybody?” Jimmy Palbro yells, “Al and Mira are the ones who brought Steve in!” And they’re hollerin’ and applaudin’ like we’re the ones who made him sick.

You generally, you go down to the diner, you meet your buddies, the regulars, and you talk about the Sox or politics or whatnot, but this Wednesday, and I remember it like it was yesterday, this Wednesday all we can talk about is Steve. Holy Jesus, you should have tasted him on the mashed potatoes! When they wheeled him in for his share, the chef actually announced him and I tell you, we stood up and clapped and whistled louder than before. He coulda run for friggin’ mayor that day. We would’ve carried him to his office on our shoulders. And he knew it too.

He’s sittin’ there in his wheelchair, lookin’ skin-boney, like he always has, miserable as hell, and when he really gets it, that we’re clapping for him, he sits up straighter. He even smiles. Well, with what teeth he has.

Somebody hands him a little plate of potatoes covered in himself. That was like a feast to Steve, even on a good day. The whole place gets quiet, and we’re just standing there, watching him. The nurse gives him a spoon and he gets a little scoop, he’s shakin’ a little, and he puts it in his mouth and you can see his eyes get really wide. And he works his mouth a couple of times, but you don’t really gotta chew it, you know that hospital stuff is basically mush, but he works it and he swallows and he goes to everybody:

“I’m really good!”

And the whole house goes apeshit!